Laura M. Holson

Denny Hatch is the author of six books on marketing and four novels, and is a direct marketing writer, designer and consultant. His latest book is “Write Everything Right!” Visit him at dennyhatch.com.

“Money is the mother’s milk of politics,” said California State Assembly Speaker, Jesse “Big Daddy” Unruh (1922-1987).

For a politician, the Internet is a huge bargain.

For example, Newt Gingrich, who is flirting with a run for the presidency, has more than 1.3 million followers on Twitter.

Twitter is free. Talking to these million-plus followers—keeping them fired up on a very personal basis—costs Gingrich nothing beyond a bit of his time.

Twenty years ago, he would have been forced to mail postcards. In today’s dollars—at 30¢ a pop—each postcard mailing would cost Gingrich $394,000.

The record shows that Gingrich has sent out 2,363 tweets as of this morning.

If the former speaker had sent all his tweets to his full list, that’s 3 billion tweets. In postcard arithmetic, that totals $929 million worth of messages.

Conventional wisdom—especially amongst politicians and the very young—is that the Internet is a Godsend, because everything is free—news, magazines, books, music, movies, tweets, Facebook, correspondence.

“‘Conventional wisdom’ is an oxymoron,” wrote Charles Hughes and William Jeanes.

In actuality, the Internet—the “new medium” where everything is free—can be a catastrophe. Not only is it an enabler of excruciatingly sloppy, self-indulgent writing that bores people to stupefaction, but it can invade our privacy, get us fired, destroy our reputations and careers, and, in some cases, cause us to commit suicide.

“Whoever you are, I have always depended on the kindness of strangers.” —Blanche DuBois, Tennessee Williams’s, “A Streetcar Named Desire.” “Dreamgirls” is boffo. My wife, Peggy, and I saw it in a neighborhood movie house where the audience is often restless, rattles popcorn bags and talks back to the screen. For the entire duration of this film the theater was dead silent. At the end of the Jennifer Hudson love song that devolved into a heart-wrenching soliloquy, we all applauded. The drama within this magical musical is all the more poignant when you discover that Jennifer Hudson was bounced from “American Idol.”

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